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Behavioural and physiological markers of Parental Embodied Mentalising: Cultural, gender, and attachment factors

Final Report Summary - EMBODIED ATTACHMENT (Behavioural and physiological markers of Parental Embodied Mentalising: Cultural, gender, and attachment factors)

1. Recruitment and administration of experimental procedure:
100 families of 6-months old infants were recruited to the study and invited to the lab at the IDC where they undertook the experimental procedure, including measurement of their physiological activity, filming parent-infant interactions, and asking the parents to complete questionnaires.
Participants signed consent forms upon arrival to the lab and were fully debriefed once they completed all the tasks. They were also compensated for their time and effort, as planned. No incidents of distress were documents among the sample. 91 of these mothers and infants have also now visited the lab for the second time when the infant turned one year of age and underwent the experimental procedure. Here too no incidents of distress were reported. 3 of the 9 remaining families have been scheduled to be seen in January and 6 families dropped out of the study due to the family’s change of residence or birth trauma.

2. PEM Training and Coding:
A team of 4 research assistants, including PhD students, dedicated to undertake the training and reliability of the PEM coding system were recruited and trained at the IDC labs. Training lasted an overall period of three months, in which bi-weekly group sessions took place, and coders practiced using a set of 10 tapes. Upon completion, the coders continued to the reliability pack, which included another set of 10 tapes which they had to code using the PEM coding system. All 4 research assistants achieved reliability and have begun assessing the parents' PEM abilities from the videotaped interactions. In fact, all 200 videos have been coded

3. Fellow’s training on psycho-physiological measurement and analysis:
The Fellow underwent extensive training that included reviewing existing literature on psycho-physiological measurement in infants and adults, particularly in the context of free movement, which poses a challenge in physiological measurement. The Fellow also shadowed and assisted at the psycho-physiological labs at the IDC to learn how to hook up participants, manage with troubleshooting, and read physiological signals online. The Fellow also attended professional conferences on the topic and sought out the most advances technologies currently available. After several months of training, the Fellow was able to operate the physiological measurement and to train research assistants to run the physiological procedures when parents and infants attended the lab. The physiological data is currently being analysed by the Fellow and experts at the IDC who are assisting in this process. Additionally, hormonal samples, including testosterone and cortisol, and Alpha Amylase, have been collected from parents, and the Fellow has undertaken significant training in this field, and has created tight collaborations with salivary labs in the UK and the US.

4. Fellow’s training on the measurement of adult attachment:
The Fellow undertook a thorough examination of the existing adult attachment measures to compare their advantages and disadvantages from scholarly and pragmatic standpoints. After much research, it has been decided to focus on two complementary methods – a questionnaire and a task. Specifically, the Experiences in Close Relationship (ECR; Brennan, Clark, & Shaver, 1998) and the Secure Base Scripts (Waters & Waters, 2006). To this end, the Fellow has obtained the Secure Base Scripts manual and has trained on the method. She then translated the scripts and their prompting words to Hebrew and established the reliability of this translation via piloting and cross-translating. The Fellow is now reliable on administrating and coding these transcripts.

5. Resources:
The grant resources have been used as planned to provide the Fellow a monthly salary.

6. Contribution to European excellence and European competitiveness:
In July 2013 and 2014, the Fellow visited the Anna Freud Centre where she ran a 3-day international training on the Parental Embodied Mentalizing (PEM coding system, to further disseminate her work and deepen the collaboration between the IDC and the Europe in general and the Anna Freud Centre/UCL in particular. Specifically, a number of PhD candidates from universities from the UK, Ireland, Norway, Spain, Denmark, and Italy attended the trainings. Practitioners from the UK, The Netherlands, Ireland, Australia and Italy also attended. Due to the success of this training, the Fellow has been invited to lead another training on PEM at the Anna Freud Centre in September 2015. This training exemplifies the Fellow’s dedication to nurture and sustain European collaborations on the academic and professional level.

At this point, all data has been collected and analysed, and the Fellow is now in her final stages of sending two empirical papers to competitive peer reviewed journals.